Toolbox: Idealware: A Few Good Accounting Packages

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You likely need an accounting package, whether you want to use one or not. A tool like Excel is a dangerous accounting solution, while a package built for accounting can save you a considerable amount of time through easy updating and reporting. But which package should you use? We talked to five nonprofit consultants and accounting specialists, who gave us a tour through solid options for a number of different types of nonprofits.




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  • 1505 Dynamics GP in 3 toolboxes
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    Microsoft has trio of accounting packages – called Dynamics GP, Dynamics SL, and Dynamics NAV – which are geared towards businesses but useful for mid-sized nonprofits as well. Dynamics GP (formerly called Great Plains) is particularly widely used – it typically costs between $5000 to $10,000, not including configuration or additional consultation. Dynamics SL is geared towards project- and service-based organizations, and is more expensive and flexible. Dynamics NAV is comparable to SL in price, but is designed to be highly customizable for those with complex needs and who want to start with a blank slate.

  • 3847 Financial Edge in 1 toolbox
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    A complex and more expensive package for those with more sophisticated needs. While it offers the ability to integrate with The Raiser's Edge (also by Blackbaud), The Financial Edge requires expensive customization, and several consultants felt that integration was not worth the effort.

  • 1886 Fund-EZ in 6 toolboxes
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    Like Peachtree and Quickbooks below, Fundware is intended for small to mid-sized nonprofits. Although it requires a bit more of an initial investment (around $1,000 for one user, including support), FundEZ is tailored specifically to nonprofits, allowing more flexibility than QuickBooks or Peachtree in tracking restricted funds and creating nonprofit-specific reports. Like Peachtree, FundEZ is designed for users who have some accounting background.

  • 1567 Fundware in 3 toolboxes
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    A more robust but pricier option, Fundware is specifically geared toward nonprofits and government organizations. It includes functionality for managing activities, projects, grants, cost centers, contracts, and investments.

  • 512 Peachtree in 3 toolboxes
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    An entry-level package, Peachtree ranges from about $100 for a basic version up to $1,000 for a much more sophisticated multi-user version. It offers more flexibility to set up reports and charts the way you like than Quickbooks, but is not as ready to use "out of the box,", and assumes that users have basic accounting experience.

  • 386 Quickbooks in 34 toolboxes
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    The market leader in entry-level accounting software, QuickBooks ranges from $100 - $400 depending on your needs. It’s geared toward small business without much accounting experience, and is relatively easy to get up and running, but it's not as customizable to particular accounting setups as other packages here.

  • 2793 Sage Mas90 in 1 toolbox
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    Mas90, created by the same company that makes MIP, is targeted primarily toward manufacturers. If your organization requires sales order entries or goods tracking, Mas90 could be a good bet. Expect to pay about $10,000 to $30,000 in licensing fees, depending on your needs.

    tagged: accounting
  • 524 Sage MIP Fund Accounting in 4 toolboxes
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    A solid nonprofit-specific option for mid-sized nonprofits, MIP charges about $5,000 to $10,000 for its Fund Accounting Pro package. MIP provides strong support for tracking restricted funds and offers a good report writer.